tv American Artifacts CSPAN August 27, 2015 7:34am-8:04am EDT
building efforts in afghanistan. >> the u.s. did achieve improvements in security but nonetheless has it ultimately been worth depends on how it ends. and the years that i hesitate that i increasingly interrogate myself and question myself, we don't know how it will end. and i think that is the moment that moment where things may collapse. but it is also possible that two, three, five years down the road we will be back in a civil war in afghanistan. isis is now slowly emerging in the country. terrifying prospect that it is. much worse than the taliban. the taliban is deeply entrenched. if we end up five years down the road in a new civil war in afghanistan, a new safe havens for the taliban and isis, i will say it was not worth the price. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a.
>> to mark the 150th anniversary of the surrender of lee to grant april 9th, 1965, the national parks service invited hundreds of experts to camp at the national historic park in virginia. american history tv visited the park the learn about a reconstructed traveling blacksmith forge. when we stopped by, the black smith was just starting ale fire.
>> my name is john. i live in springville, new york. this is a replica of the traveling for rajs that the artillery and cavalry would have with them. the ferriers would use the forge to reshoe the horses. i would like to tell people that our job back here is is very similar to a nascar pit crew. we were the nascar pit crew of the 1860s. working with us would be carpenters that would repair the sides of the wagons.
the wheelwrights would take care of the wheels. the coopers would work on fixing and repairing barrels. we have the leather workers and harness makers. and then of course the blacksmith's primary job is to repair items. the biggest job then again is the ferriers. in an artillery battery, we have approximately 140 horses. there's actually more horses than there are men. so the james farrifai ferriers . i heated up this meat. right now i'm just going to forge it to a point on the anvil using a three-pound hammer. i look for a nice orange color.
a good blacksmith always has a real good pair of tongs. heat this back up. now, this lever is operating at a pair of bellows in the back of the forge. and you can see the gray leather bag going up and down. that's filling up with air. and then the air comes out of the top of the forge into the fire pit. in the forge is also -- you'll notice it says forge l. this would be attached to an artillery battery, battery l. down here are the three drawers for storage. drawer number three has all our metal. different sizes, different shapes. drawer number one has all our tools in it. and our gloves, our files, our
chisels. and then drawer number two would really have our tongs in it. and i do have modern day things here. first-aid kit, et cetera. but that would be where we would store our tongs. and some of the tools that we use to put in the back of the anvil to shape metal around this -- what we call a hardy. on the back of the forge is this box. and this would ride up here. in here we have about 250 pounds of coal. so we're very self-sufficient. overall, this weighs about 2,000 pounds. and it would be pulled by a limber and six mules. we can go back here and i'll finish forging. nice job. is it hot? >> it is really hot.
yeah, yeah, thanks. blacksmith's do a lot of their work at night. basically so we can see the color of the metal. the sun is starting to come up here today. so i have to kind of be careful. i could burn up my piece of metal. but there we go. a nice orange color. behind me, chad. now, i'm rounding my corners on here and bringing this metal to a point. and then in a minute i'll show you how to bend the point over. and what i'm working on is what i call the pigtail.
and you can see you would round this off so if you were to hang your hat or your coat or something it wouldn't rip. it is also decorative like this fork. it looks pretty with that pigtail on the back and gives you a place to put your baby finger when you're eating too. but these are some of the items we would make. i have this to a point. i will heat it back up to roll it. it's always good to have a good apprentice. cheap pumping, keep pumping, chappy. >> tell us about your wagon. how did you determine the size? >> i was a metal and wood shop teacher for a number of years. and being a re-enactor, we needed a blacksmith forge for our artillery group.
i wrote to the national archives in washington, d.c. i received in the mail a plan book of 135 pages of all the details on how to make the forge. i did make this forge. everything here, except the wheels and the vice. and it took me two years to build it. i actually cut down my own oak tree and ash tree and cut those to the dimensions. and all the metal, including the rivets, are things that i have forged and fabricated. okay. i'm going to bend the pigtail. so i hold this over the anvil. just very carefully hit it. and there's the pigtail at this
point. now, i'm making a little hook. it will look like this, called a teardrop hook. so my next step is to actually make the hook itself. so once again, i have to heat it back up. in making the forge, i have come to find out there's only five or six of these in the country. they do have an original one, which i did go see, down at the chattanooga battle field. i took over 100 pictures so i could get some of the finer details of the chains and the hooks. so this forge is very, very accurate. i don't want to ruin my pigtail. so i have to cool it off in water and harden it.
okay. and you can see that this is black and this is still orange. this will be very easy now to bend. i put it over the hoard of the anvil. straighten it out. and there's my curve. now i will cut this off here and i will make the top end called the teardrop. okay, chappy. >> ready to heat it back up? >> yeah. heat er back up. now i will use a tool in the
whole of the anvil called a cut-off hardy. it has a chisel and a shank on it. put it in the back of the anvil. it's the hardy hole, they call that. and then i would take the metal and i'll be hitting this. and then i break it off. a little more. now the hook that i'm making, called the teardrop hook, is a hook that the soldiers would have blacksmiths make. good, chap. i don't want to cut that all the way through, because i would ruin the sharp edge. so i cut it about halfway.
and then all i do is i twist it right off. and then i put this in. and i'll shape the back end in the shape of a teardrop. okay. the soldiers would be marching along. and they may find a piece of chain -- not too much. may find a piece of chain or a square nail. they would take a that to the blacksmith and ask the blacksmith to make them this hook, the teardrop hook. i'll make the teardrop end right now. and i just hold the metal in one
spot and just pound it to make it wide. and you can see how that is beginning to look like the bottom of the tear. now i will bring this to a point. and i'll put it over the hoard and just curl it a little bit. as you can see, it looks like a teardrop. when the soldiers had the blacksmith make the teardrop hook, they then would go back to their tent and they would write a love letter home to their wife or girlfriend, or maybe both.
who knows but they would put the date on top of the letter and they would mail this home. when the wife got the teardrop hook, it told her two things. one, the husband missed her. he wanted to be home. it was a symbol of love. so she would take the teardrop hook and hang it on the wall. and she could hang her aprons or maybe her hat or handbag over this. the letter also, because it was dated, told the wife that her husband was still alive, let's say, april 12th. well, unfortunately, there is a sad side to this story. the soldier, the husband, the next day was killed in battle. so the sergeant or the lieutenant would go out and claim his body and may take off a wedding ring or necklace from the soldier and accepted it back
to his wife. when she then got that letter with his personal effects, she would now take her items off there, hang his items on here. and then take her wedding ring off and hang it over here. so that was now a memorial to her fallen husband. so that's the story of the forge and the teardrop hook. >> so this is a lot of trouble for you to do all of this. why do you do this? what's the value of it? >> the value of it is to watch people and the spectators really get into what we're doing here and teach people about the history of our country. being a former shop teacher, i became a principal. and teaching kids about history is very, very important for me. most of the items that you see here in the blacksmith shop, all the boxes, the table, the stove -- or the desk, are all
items that i've made from old barn wood. so it keeps me busy because i like to do this kind of hobby. i like to work with my hands. if i could sum up the last five years with this 150th anniversary series we have been going to, i could say it's been very emotional. we've been on the battle field with our cannons. because part of an a artillery unit. and i honestly can say once you really get into what's going on around you, you really believe that you were there at that particular moment in time. gettysburg was very emotional for so many people. we just were at cedar creek in the fall. again, very emotional for us. and we are a federal artillery group. we came down here in app mattocks and became a confederate group because robert
e. lee, general lee, surrendered with the forge. so they asked if we could be part of it. the group i belong to has about 85 people. we really like the living history piece. most of us are educators or former educators and like to interact with people. i never served in the military. so this is my way of paying back to those people that have gone before us. and, you know, served our country. >> are there any stories you can remember from the past four years that something -- >> you know, there's a couple things that happened at every single event. and i think the favorite -- my favorite is not necessarily one in particular event. but at every event we seem to connect with the local people.
and like yesterday, for example, we had some chicken stew. and a couple ladies came by. we offered, do you want chicken stew. they said yes. they ate stew with us for dinner. this was two days ago. and yesterday they came back and -- well, let me show you. they came back with lemon pound cake and cookies for us yesterday for dessert. we just had a lot of fun with them. at gettysburg, we were on seminary ridge doing blacksmithing. again, people were coming by. we offered some food. the next morning a gentleman came back with a bushel basket of vegetables from his garden. lettuce, carrots, onions. that's what we do.
it's so much fun for us. at every event there is a connection with the local people. well, these are some of the basic tools that the blacksmith would have in the forge wagon. this tool is called a flatter. and after you forge your metal, there's little bumps from the edges of the hammers. so you would put this on the metal, on the anvil. and you would hit it here. it would make a real flat surface on the piece of metal. it's almost like an iron. but you would have to hit it with a hammer. this is -- oh, the other thing is -- this is pretty cool. this is marked c.s. so we don't know if this is confederate. but one of the guys was telling me this is really an old piece. but the handle is made from an
old wagon spoke, wagon wheel spoke. this is one of the punches. and, again, you heat the metal up. when the metal is hot, you hit it with the hammer. and it will punch a hole in here. versus drilling in. this is a folding tool. it looks like a hammer. but the back part is rounded. so if i wanted to make a 90-degree bend in my metal, i would just hit this along a line. and i could hit it straight up and get a nice 90-degree bend. and the different hammers. they're the basics. the hammer. the cross pin hammer. because this is straight across here. and then we have several different kind of punches. my favorite thing is to ask kids
especially, hey, you become a really good blacksmith when you know,000 drill a square hole. of course we know you can't drill a square hole but you can punch a square hole. again, heating the metal up, punching it through with a hammer. you would get a nice square hole. you can see them kind of scratch their head. drill a square hole? and their parents of course catch on to it. we also would show the soldiers how they would make the bullets. this is a bullet mold where we would melt the lead, close the mold up, and then pour the lead into the two holes. and then it would cool off. you open it up and you have the bullets. it would be in there like that. or like that. i'm sorry.
like that. there we go. there would be two of them here. >> you're from buffalo, but you're playing a confederate. does that bother you? >> it doesn't bother me at all. we have a lot of fun being confederates. the guys seem to like us. we like them. again, it's all about meeting people from all over the country and getting to know them a little bit better. being an educator, i think for the younger generation coming up, it's -- the most important thing for them is to get involved with your community, get involved with some type of hobby that you can learn. i've been doing this for over 10 years. every day i learn something new about the civil war. but our young people can't forget our history. i know a lot of kids, especially in high school, they have trouble with history. and then after high school, when they are past college age or whatever, they just start to get into it because they can come to
places like appomattox national battle field and park and learn what happened. but they become involved with it. sitting back is one thing and kind of watching. but if you can actually do it and experience it and immerse yourself in it, that's really important for our young generation to not forget. >> near the camp of the traveling blacksmith forge, civil war re-enactors portrayed the gun stacking ceremony that took place after lee's surrender to grant on april 19th, 1865.
brigade! >> my name is chris roberts. i'm from weaverville, north carolina. i'm portraying the commanding officer. the actual colonel was in the host a little bit further south in the area of north carolina. at the moment i'm commanding the first battalion. this is my 30th year of re-enacting. i've been through the 125th anniversary series 25 years ago. and continued on until now. who knows phil be around for the 175th. >> how have things changed in the past 30 years of your re-enacti re-enacting? >> with the emergence of the internet, it is easier to find
master records and images of original soldiers. in the days prior to that, it was difficult to find that information. you would have to the travel to archives and go through microfilm, stores. now it is much easier to communicate with folks. authenticity has increased immensely. right down to the minute details that are produced and buttons. many pieces would be difficult in time to tell them from the original. the great thing about living history is that when you read the books and you sort of try to picture the moment, even the best of information. but when you wear the uniforms
and the sights, the sounds, the smells the same as they were then. you begin to realize all the small details you would have missed before. when i first began to re-enact, thereenact, the haversack when i carried my rations i put it on the wrong side of my body and a soldier said "that's the incorrect side. that will get in the way of getting to your cartridges in your cartridge box. something that never would have occurred to me. then when i have to follow the same actions and drill that becomes clear. it's little details it fills in that enrichs the whole experience.
american history tv continues in prime time thursday with a look at world war i. first the discussion on german-occupied belgium and the humanitarian aid it received as part of an international effort led by herbert hoover. also look at woodrow wilson's second term as president from the time the u.s. first entered the war in 1917. florence harding once said she had only one hobby and that was warren harding. she was a significant force in her